island life(style)–a bit of goodness

Guam, home, http://schemas.google.com/blogger/2008/kind#post, Island life, lifestyle, photography

“Home should be the treasure chest of living.”
~Le Corbusier
Happy birthday to my love. 

Our tiny “field” of island sweet corn. How happy!
Have a lovely day!
~Audrey Ann

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Fields of Salt Water and Oceans of Corn

adventure, Christian, Christian womanhood, Culture, family, Heritage, http://schemas.google.com/blogger/2008/kind#post, Island life

An ocean of prairie grass billows and the wagon sways like a ship, heavy with hope. Those brave pioneers crossed miles and miles to claim a new land as their own, as their home. Ever since I was a little girl, their stories have drawn me in, but little did I know how they would define me. 
It is going on five years since I boarded that United plane bound for the Pacific island of Guam. I was a little girl, really, en route to my destiny, an adventure I could not resist. I did some teaching and some falling in love. Now I am married and this is my home. 
It hit me the day I got my driver’s license, the day my husband first teased me about my local accent, and the day I felt more comfortable chatting with local firefighter’s wives than military wives who were pining for Starbucks and Target. This, this quirky place infused with island, Asian, and military culture was home.
If you search for “Guam Scenery” on Pinterest, your eyes will feast on striking beaches, the bluest waves, and breathtaking cliff lines. And they are real! However, those, lovely as they are, do not make this place my home. I would bet that Pinterest will not show you my humble studio apt in the jungle. Yes, the jungle. It will not show you the crazy roosters and my neighbor shouting at the other neighbors who have an all-out rock concert at 1am.

 On vacation. Did I cry when I saw the cornfields? Yes. Yes, I did.

I have struggled with how to make this place my home. A lot of my prized possessions are in the States–in plastic totes my parents are gracious enough to keep. I have thrown away a lot of things along the way, just like my pioneers who braved the west. They threw over heavy chests and other heirlooms that carried too much weight. So have I. But they clutched the lighter items, the quilts, the china, and stored them in their homes of sod and timber. A semblance of their past married the reality of their future. And it was home.
The days I have compared Guam to the Mainland and all that I miss and what I want at my disposal, those have been miserable days. And the days I have pretended to not miss Indiana and just embrace island life with no looking back, those have been dishonest days.
Truth is, I have made this place my home because this place has changed me. The people changed me. I let them change me. In order for a place to be home, you must embrace both your past, your present, and the juxtaposition that it brings. Yes, I now have a twinge of an accent, I kiss those I meet (save military) on the cheek, and I love red rice. But I also still love my blue and white china I brought in my carry on, and anything else antique and English. Every Christmas I make my aunt’s cinnamon rolls. My bookshelf boasts some old Shakespeare books from my great grandpa. 
It is possible to have the ocean and miss cornfields. I know. But it is also possible to be thankful for both. I am a heartland girl turned island girl. And because I am choosing to embrace my past and my now, I can always be at home. For in the end, Jesus is with me, and He is my home.

Keep the Faith,
Audrey Ann


All photo credits (besides #1 already noted) belong to Eric and Audrey Ann Masur. Please do not copy unless given permission.

Liberation of the Soul

Captivity, Christian, Culture, http://schemas.google.com/blogger/2008/kind#post, Island life, Jesus, Liberation, Liberation Day, Liberty
Today is the 71st Liberation Day on Guam. We celebrate the freedom of our island and honor the sacrifices made. Copious amounts of red rice, ribs, and finadene will be consumed. Fireworks will blast all night, and my dogs will go crazy. It will be a loud and lovely day as we remember.  Liberation is beautiful, because captivity is ugly.
He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins” 
(Colossians 1:13-14)

And I think about my soul and every soul, bound, captive before Jesus Christ. The liberation He offers is perfect and beautiful, because our captivity to sin is horrific. But sometimes I forget that He is our only hope. Sometimes I think that people earn their favor with God by being nice and obeying all the rules.

The lie about soul liberation is that we can earn it.

We churched ones can grow up wearing the idea, wearing it like clothing against our chests, that people can attain perfection in and of themselves. Every day we have donned these rags. Others earn our respect based on how well they obey all the rules–or how much it looks like they are, and we earn theirs the same way.

This garment is tight and restricting; we are suffocated, our breath of joy restrained. Too distracted by these binding clothes to understand true love, we are robbed of knowing who Jesus is.

Legalism can be accidental, but it is still deadly.

We believe there is a formula, a checklist, that if followed, will constitute success, respect, forgiveness. The formula becomes our god, the checklist our security blanket.

Bowing to the religion of us, we forget.

“For it is by grace…” Grace, this warrior word that defies our human prejudices and presuppositions. Grace that crashes us to our knees in relief. On our knees has always been our strongest place, because it is the place where His hand extends.

But sometimes I avoid it, because I prefer to make it about me. Grace is always about Jesus.

The joy of Jesus’ death and resurrection is that we needed it. If we could earn our way there, what does the rest even mean?

Does His grace demand our love and, in turn, obedience? Of course. But the fight for the liberation of our souls has already been fought on the cross (Romans 10:9-10, Philippians 3:4-11). And that is a reason to surrender and celebrate!

Keep the Faith,
Audrey Ann

Photo credit: http://www.nps.gov

Ballet and Feminism

Christianity, Feminism, http://schemas.google.com/blogger/2008/kind#post, Strength, Stretch, Work

We hear a lot about equality today. We hear a lot about women’s rights. We hear a lot from women who are loud and proud about this and that. Due to having a few friends in Women and Gender studies (one is a professor), I have learned that a war is still waging over a woman’s place in the American society. I sort of thought that ship had pretty much sailed by the 1970s, but I (reluctantly) stand corrected. 
We all come from different backgrounds. Some of us had fathers who let us down by preferring other women (or pictures of them) to our moms. That makes us angry. Some of us had fathers who said we couldn’t go to college because we are women. That makes us angry. Some of us have been abused in one way or another because we have two x chromosomes. That makes us angry.
And that is okay. 
However, what is not okay is to go through life like a scared, arch-backed cat pawing at everything, namely male, who dares even slightly cross us. Once an acquaintance of my husband, upon the first time we met, waltzed in the room and said, “Hello, young lady.” I’m sure he meant nothing…but I mean seriously, what if I had said, “Hello, old man“? Not so much. But I just smiled and let it go. 
And what about this new trend for men to wear soft porn on their t-shirts? To me, THAT is offensive…in SO many ways. But here’s the thing, if I go around like a wild banshee yelling at everyone who offends me,  I will probably be yelling a lot, and I will certainly not win any respect. 
True strength always has grace. It is like a ballerina. On stage they look so light and carefree. Their gracefulness entrances the audience. But what what makes them beautiful on stage is their strength, gnarly toes, and dedication to working through pain. 
Ballet hurts, let me tell you. After taking a sixteen-year sabbatical from ballet classes, I started up this past year. It was sort of my personal “Mt. Everest” to climb, and I have learned so much–about determination, poise, and plain ol’ humility. Trying to do the splits next to ten-year-olds who have no hips? Yeah. 
Every class I choke down some humble pie, but I also strengthen my muscles and learn how to hold myself up just a little bit more, and I learn how to fall out of my pirouette just a little bit less. I want to look lovely on stage one day, but first, I must get stronger. I must bend and stretch and hold my body in ways that feel extremely rigid and unnatural.

Beauty is always rooted in strength.
It has been an interesting road for women. That is for sure. But the women who have truly changed the world for the better, the women who have truly touched my heart, personally, are not the ones who keep screaming or refuse to wear bras. They are women who have lived in a graceful way, not just 1950s-Good-Housekeeping graceful, but truly graceful, extending a warm smile, a helping hand, and a hope for the future. Why? Because they were strong. 
And the strongest women are always surrendered to Jesus Christ, because He defines what it means to be human, and what it means to be a woman.
“Strength and honor are her clothing…she opens her mouth with wisdom, and on her tongue is the law of kindness.” Proverbs 31:25a-26, NKJV
Keep the Faith, 
Audrey Ann
“Being a Christian woman does not make me a different kind of Christian, but it does make me a different kind of woman.” ~Elisabeth Elliot

Photo Credit: nymag.com, photographer: Henry Leutwyler

New Year’s…Remembrances

Christian womanhood, Christian women, Christianity, church, God, Gospel, http://schemas.google.com/blogger/2008/kind#post, New Year, Remember, writing

It is a tradition among some to write New Year’s resolutions, which involves writing your goals and hopes for the next year. Maybe this helps some people–I’m sure it does. However, I have not been one of those people.  Perhaps my goals were too broad, too big, or just plain dumb. Other than the good exercise of writing down goals, New Year’s resolutions sort of depressed me. I liked the idea of them, but it seemed like they were just paper, pencil, and lofty goals…lofty goals I was likely not to achieve. They were time capsules of disappointment.

Several years ago, someone challenged me to, instead of merely writing resolutions, write a list of all the things I had accomplished that year and some of the things God had helped me learn. It was one of the most encouraging things I have ever done.
Now, I am not a drunk-on-self-love type. I find all of that rather annoying and unbiblical. However, it is clear that God wants us to remember what He has done in us, and when we only focus on what we want to do or who we want to be in the future, we may miss what He has already done, and who He is already helping us to be right now.
In Joshua 4 God told his people to build a memorial to remind them what He had done and to be a remembrance for their children.
“When your children ask their fathers in times to come, ‘What do these stones mean?’ then you shall let your children know, ‘Israel passed over this Jordan on dry ground.’ For the Lord your God dried up the waters of the Jordan for you until you passed over, as the Lord your God did to the Red Sea, which he dried up for us until we passed over, so that all the peoples of the earth may know that the hand of the Lord is mighty, that you may fear the Lord your God forever.” (Joshua 4:21-24)
So try it. It doesn’t need to be anything fancy. Find a piece of paper, a piece of quiet, and remember. Write things you’ve accomplished, learned, and experienced. I bet you’ll be surprised. Chat with your family about the Lord’s grace and provision for the great and the small this year of 2014. 
And a Happy New Year to you!
Keep the Faith,
Audrey Ann
image credit: 1. google images/answerhub.com
 2. google images/mobilemarketingwatch.com

The Wonder and Antics of Advent

Advent, children, Christian, Christmas, encouragement, eternal perspective, http://schemas.google.com/blogger/2008/kind#post, Jesus

It is that beautiful waiting–that stomach-fluttering sensation with eyes wide open in bed. Christmas is coming. The house feels stuck in time with a soft glow as Mama and Dad shuffle around downstairs. I can hear Mama say, “Jon, where’s that other roll of tape?” Christmas is tomorrow. Breathing deeply I can still smell the candle-blown-out smell from my Christmas Eve candle I got to carry to bed all by myself.  
About once a week leading up to Christmas, our family would do Advent devotionals. Sometimes we missed a week, and sometimes we forgot and only did it Christmas Eve, but it was always so special and so important. There was the gold wreath, holding four candles and one in the middle– one for each of us to light. Dad would read scripture verses about Jesus in Isaiah and Luke, and one of my brothers would attempt to blow out the candles with puffs of breath, pretending to hide his antics from Dad. We snickered and shifted, trying to find a comfy position on the floor.  There was a warmth and anticipation that enveloped us in our flannel pajamas and slippers we had outgrown years ago. My family has this thing with traditions.
Those advent devotionals taught me about living in remembrance of the Gospel and never forgetting the holiness and specialness of our Lord, our continual inadequacy, and His continual love. Now I realize that those nights were a picture of our lives.  Even though we can sit still better than when we were young, we never truly grow out of our antics. We recognize the glory of God, but still seem to fidget with the cares of this world, both the things we love and the things we fear. 
In Christ’s holiness and in the expectancy of His second coming, we are less than we should be. We wiggle and squirm, our mannerisms often irreverent. But He came all the same. He came to glorify the Father and save us. So recognize the beauty of this moment and take a few to remember and wait, remember how He came and wait with joy for His return. Maybe you’re worried that you did not get so-and-so a good present, or maybe you can’t find the other roll of tape. It’s okay. Light a few candles for Advent, read some scriptures, and let the flame remind you of the Light of the World who came to rescue you and will descend again. Christmas is coming.

Keep the Faith,
Audrey Ann
P.S. Interested in trying an Advent devotional (in addition to scripture reading)? It’s not too late! Here are a few ideas:
Image Credit: Google Images/mattressessale.eu

Multicultural Manners: The Art of Kindness on Guam

Christian, Christian womanhood, etiquette, Guam, http://schemas.google.com/blogger/2008/kind#post, island, kindness, manners

When I was a teenager, I came across a 1st edition of Emily Post’s Etiquette. Being a lover of old books, I glanced through it and was overwhelmed with all the details and rules about how to conduct oneself in society, how to set a table, how to do nearly everything, it seemed. 


Several years later my interest in the subject grew, and I was encouraged by a dear friend who is a certified Protocol and Etiquette consultant (you should visit her fabulous blog). I bought books and did research on all things “Protocol and Etiquette.” To my delight, I learned that etiquette is not merely about how to set a gorgeous table, but how to respect others and offer them kindness with everyday interactions.


On Guam there are many cultural differences, but kindness is universal. We all desire it, and we all have the potential to give it, if we make some effort. When I first came to Guam (about four years ago), I was excited to learn about new people and customs, but I was also afraid. 


It seemed so easy to offend others, if I did not know their traditions. However, since I was a teacher, I was reminded through the interaction with my students that we all desire the same thing, no matter our culture or ethnicity: we all desire kindness.

Friends need not share the same culture, as long as they share a similar kindness.



Sometimes we read the news and feel baffled by all the negative events that are taking place in the world right now. But we should not forget that we, too, influence this world. Let’s influence it for good. Whether it’s holding the door, putting down your cellphone for a conversation, or smiling at a passing stranger, we can all help our island (and our world) be a kinder, well-mannered place.


However, how can you do this is in a multicultural setting? How do you have “good manners” when different social norms dictate different practices? While it would take many years to grasp all the nuances of the various cultures on Guam, there are certain manners than can transcend cultural boundaries, and help our island be an even lovelier place than it already is. It’s a fun challenge! The love of God extends throughout culture and color. Therefore, so should our kindness and awareness.


Manners matter because people matter. Although I have made (and will continue to make) mistakes with regard to manners, the goal is to keep learning and spreading kindness along the way. Emily Post said, “Manners are a sensitive awareness to the feelings of others. If you have that awareness, you have good manners, no matter what fork you use.”

Keep the Faith,
Audrey Ann

image credit: retroette.com


Planning on Porn and Planning to Die: Lies We Believe

Brittany Maynard, Christian, Hope, http://schemas.google.com/blogger/2008/kind#post, Jennifer Lawrence, Jesus

“Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? 
You are not your own…”
1 Corinthians 6:19


Besides the horrors of ISIS, Ebola, and the constant turmoil that is Washington D.C., two other stories have shoved to the front of the line. The first is about a young woman, Brittany Maynard, who is planning to legally take her life in a few weeks, and the other is about Jennifer Lawrence and how she addressed the nude pictures of herself that were shared against her will, saying that in a long distance relationship, either your boyfriend will view you or pornography.


First of all, let me be clear that I have NO IDEA what it must feel like to have terminal brain cancer, facing fears for your family and loved ones, and living with a body that is very much not under your control. And I am very sorry for Laurence and the embarrassment and pain this crime against her has caused. Both of these women seem to be seeking dignity with their lives, and seeking to help others who are having similar struggles. I commend them for that.


In certain articles, both of the stories included the word “Beautiful” in the titles. However, there is an underlying, sad kind of ugliness to them that cannot be masked with the false veil of heroism. The wrapping may be pretty, but the gift is a nightmare. 


These stories have a common denominator: they both attempt to answer the question, “What does it mean to be human?” This is one of the BIG questions of life, a catch phrase in my Worldview class, and generally something I tend to throw into conversations only to hear a very loud lull. 

But what does it mean to be human? If human life is all about what we want and how we choose to make ourselves happy, then why not end your life early, and why not send nude pictures across your phone or even share those photos with others? And as in the case of Maynard, you might financially help out your family. This could appear like a good choice, the right choice. 


We as Americans are people of choice. Don’t you dare take away my choices, fool! This is ‘MURICA. I deserve my “me” time, my Starbucks, and my organic-super-expensive skincare. This is my body, and I can do what I want with it AND with any other life inside of it. So there. 


But it doesn’t work that way. It just doesn’t. The truth is that our bodies are not our own. And this makes them infinitely more special than if they were just ours, mere accidents having evolved from oozing muck. Instead, we were purposely formed from the mire, each one of us known by the Creator. Our days are numbered by Him, and our bodies are supposed to be for His glory, not meat for men. God gave us a purpose and a role as unique, choice-making beings. This is what it means to be human.

“Planned dying” could lead the way for other horrors to be legalized or even mandated. These kind of stories tend to have a ripple effect. And you don’t have to show your boyfriend pornography of yourself to keep him. In fact, if he asks, you should certainly lose him…and fast.


Again, my heart goes out to both women. I wish I could tell them that Jesus Christ loves them, and and that there is another way, a better way. His always is.


Keep the Faith,
Audrey Ann

Photo Credit: Marvelous Things Photography by Tori Watson

The Unadventure: Everyday Tasks with Eternal Perspective

adventure, encouragement, eternal perspective, http://schemas.google.com/blogger/2008/kind#post, island, Jesus, The Valley of Vision
“Teach me the happy art of attending to things 
temporal with mind intent on things eternal.”

The Valley of Vision

There are many wonders about island life. There are also many lies. There’s this one about how I lie on the beach all day sipping smoothies to a live reggae band, breeze in my hair and enticing novel in my hand. But I don’t. 


Perhaps once a month there will be a magical day like that, but most days are ordinary days, days much like anywhere else. I stand in grocery store lines and swerve to avoid hitting people in traffic. I feel too far from certain people I love.


I do laundry, make dinner for my husband, and sweep the floor. I yell at Sue (the dog) to stop barking at the poor cat who broke her leg and subsequently took Sue’s favorite shaded spot. And I open my arms wide, hoping to get some breeze. It can be so very hot. Shirts do not last me very long here. Just sayin’.

The island is great for adventure, from hiking, to snorkeling, to interacting with so many diverse cultures. I love it. However, it is not those activities that define my time here. It’s playing with my dog. It’s kissing my husband goodnight at the fire station and driving home alone. It’s laughing at the hilarious toddlers we teach in Sunday school who always think Eric is my dad.


There are days I have looked down into the sink and thought, what am I doing with my life?! And then God reminds me that living for Him involves the everyday things, the mundane things, the boring things.Sometimes those are the greatest mountains we can know.  



All these “little tasks” are ways to take care of my family and can be ways of showing Christ’s love and commitment.

Am I doing these things with joy, with love for Him and trust in Him? Sure, wild adventures are great, but it seems to me that what defines a person’s character is not what they do when the epic music is playing in the background, but what they do when it’s not. 

Those dishes matter. That laundry matters. They matter because the people using them matter. And while Jesus performed miracles for a few years, it seems that He spent most of His time on earth in His dad’s shop. Just remember that. 

Keep the Faith,

Audrey Ann

Photo Credit: Google (free) Images/allkyhoops.com